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HP first with Xeon E5 workstations, hints at 16-core Mac Pro

updated 12:35 am EST, Tue March 6, 2012

HP Z420, Z620, Z820 hint plans for others

HP confirmed that Intel was launching its long-in-the-making Xeon E5 workstation processors after it introduced a trio of new Z workstations. The regular Z420, mid-tier Z620, and flagship Z820 can all use the new E5-2600 chip line, which scales up to eight cores in one chip and has new ceilings for memory. At its extreme, the Z820 can have 16 cores across two processors, 14TB of storage, and a very large 512GB of error-correcting memory.

Based on the more recent Sandy Bridge-E architecture from gaming-friendly Core i7 processors, the E5 has an "optimized I/O infrastructure." Most if not all have Hyperthreading to double up on tasks per core, leading to as many as 32 simultaneous program threads.

The Z620 can have the 16 cores, but a more modest 11TB of disk space and 96GB of memory. Z420 buyers don't get the dual-core choice, but they can dip to more frugal E5-1600 chips and still have the 11TB disk choice.

All of them use NVIDIA's Quadro graphics for pro 3D, scaling from Quadro 2000 boards in the Z420 and moving up to the Quadro 5000 and 6000 in the Z620 and Z820 respectively. Dual Quadro 5000s are options in the Z620, and the 6000 can get the same treatment in the Z820.

HP isn't specific about configurations, although the E5 is relatively affordable. A Z420 starts off at $1,169, while moving to the Z620 costs a minimum $1,649 and the Z820 costs at least $2,299.

With Intel having yet to make a full production version of the E5 public, HP is effectively announcing the processors and giving a clue as to where others will go. Apple is expected to launch a Mac Pro update based on the E5, along with more modern graphics and pricing.

by MacNN Staff



  1. DaJoNel

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Very nice

    Now if only it shipped with Mac OS X.

  1. Arne_Saknussemm

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Face it DaJoNel;

    Apple has long stopped caring for the pros or high end users these workstations are targeted at.

    And if it the current prices on the Mac store for two year old Mac Pro Xeon workstations are any indication,
    The next update would start at something like $3000 for a very basic system with single Raedon instead of optional dual Quadro graphics, lower end memory, and no RAID (unless a $700 premium is added).

    Nevertheless the case (a "timeless" 8-10? year old design) would fit beautifully with your full line of iStuff

  1. Electropura718

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Mac OSX=OSX

    Who might just ship with OSX? Note that Apple dropped "Mac" from OSX in the Mountain Lion Developer Preview. The Get Info screen now says OSX not Mac OSX. I'm guessing they are thinking of getting out of the workstation game, but will consider licensing to select high end hardware.

  1. Foxypaco

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Problem with Pro market

    It's gotten too small. The only Pro's that need the computing power of a Mac Pro are digital video pros, 3D/CG pros and super hi-res graphics pros. Many people have gone to work strictly on the Web where you don't need such a powerful computer to get work done because graphics especially are generally 2D and only 72dpi (vs 300dpi and up). As a web developer for the past 5 years, if I really wanted to, I could still be using my old white Macbook from 2006 to get ALL my work done without any issues.

  1. Arne_Saknussemm

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The Pro market IS smaller - On OSX.

    About six or seven years ago Apple still had some leverage on the pro market with very competitive prices on Xeon processors.

    Those days are long gone.

    Not because there are less content creators or engineers out there,
    but because Apple's high end offering is not only ridiculously overpriced but almost 2 years old now.

    When you need to tessellate a complex surfaced solid for Finite Element Analysis,
    every second you shave will buy you more design iteration time on a given project;
    every extra processor cycle you can get a hold on is badly needed.

    When given the choice of an antiquated and overpriced Mac Pro vs a build it yourself PC or even a branded windows/intel solution, there is no contest.

    On top of this, backwards compatibility is very important for the Pros, and you know you cannot place Apple and backwards compatibility on the same sentence.

    3 years ago I set up a small 4 workstation render farm, they run 24/7 on WinXP.
    Last summer I added 2 dual Xeon machines running Win7.
    They share rendering loads beautifully, and even upload rendered frames to a server through a six year old retired workstation running KDE Linux.

    This is not a complex setup created for a studio, but rather the typical recycling of workstations as they get retired on a personal studio.

    Try reusing old systems made by Apple.

  1. Arne_Saknussemm

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Even Apple, uses PCs on the ID department.

    All apple devices get final surfacing and engineering on applications not available on OSX.

    About the only application used for high end surfacing and ID that runs on Macs is Autodesk Alias, yet one common complaint of it's OSX users is Autodesk's glacial support vs the same release for Windows.

    This is not an accident, but rather one more consequence of Apple's painfully slow killing of it's high end line.

    Check out both the Apple store, and the Alias certified hardware site.
    You will not find a single pro level graphics card approved for Alias available from Apple.

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